Worlds puts local ump in line for Olympics

Tony Shaw -
Tony Shaw
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Tony Shaw reached the quarter-finals at the recent World Table Tennis Championships in Tokyo, a feat the Richmond umpire hopes will help earn him a spot at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Long recognized as one of Canada’s top officials and always an ardent champion of his sport, Shaw celebrated his 70th birthday Sunday with the energy and look of someone much younger. On Monday, he was back at the Richmond Olympic Oval working to improve his craft.

“There were evaluations going on all the time in Japan, in every match,” said Shaw. “I hope I did well enough to be considered as an official at the Olympics, which has always been my goal.”

The 2014 world championships was Shaw’s third. He’s also officiated at numerous other international tournaments as well as locally, where he’s often served as the chief official.

Shaw was overwhelmed by this year’s world championships, which featured not only the best of the best but were played in two venues each the size of the Richmond Olympic Oval.

“It was all like a big carnival, just llke an Olympic Games,” he said. “There were 110 countries represented and 13,000 players. And both venues were full most of the time.”

Richmond’s Andre Ho, an Olympian in 2012 in London, was among the Canadian players none of whom made it to the playoff round.

Shaw still believes Canadians can compete with the world’s elite, but stressed it will be a challenge—and not without significant sacrifices.

“In countries like China table tennis is extremely popular because it’s relatively inexpensive,” he said. “And there’s lots of opportunities to play. Canadians can do the same, but to become as good as the best players in the world they need to play the best more often. Unfortunately geography is a factor. Another way is to have our players be able to go overseas to learn from the best coaches in a sport/cultural exchange.”

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